Det är inte lätt att kvantifiera begreppen mångfald och tolerans. Många forskare har valt ett kreativt sätt att mäta dessa svårfångade begrepp på samhällsnivå. Det mest etablerade måttet på tolerans är att undersöka hur stor andel av befolkningen är homosexuella. Gay Index är ett mått på andelen av homosexuella som bor bor i ett område. Homosexuella, bidrar till mångfalden och ett ställe som välkomnar homosexuella välkomnar också mångfald på andra sätt. Undersökningar har visat att desto fler homosexuella som bor i ett visst område desto mer sannolikt är det att området också har mer framgångsrika innovationskrävande industrier. Enligt den senaste uträkningen skattar följande amerikanska städer högt på Gay Index: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Denver, och Seattle.
De statistiska centralbyråerna i Europa för inte sådan statistik, och det är inte säkert att Gay Index skulle vara ett bra mått på tolerans och mångfald i länder där homosexualitet inte är lika kontroversiellt som det fortfarande är i stora delar av USA. Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter har kartlagt situationen för homosexuella i Sveriges kommuner. Denna rankning från 1998 har används som ett mått på tolerans i samhället. Följande svenska kommuner hamnar högt på rankning: Malmö, Stockholm, och Umeå medan Hudiksvall, Kungsbacka, och Karlskoga hamnar lägst på listan.
Ett annat index som har används for att mäta mångfald är andelen av människor med konstnärliga yrken vilket Bohemian Index mäter. Sedan 20-talet har forskare sett ett samband mellan andelen av personer med konstnärliga yrken och ett land eller en stads ekonomiska framgångar. Bohemian Index är ett mått på hur många författare, designers, musikanter, skådespelare, och andra med konstnärliga yrken bor i ett viss område. Detta har används som ett mått på mångfald, då städer eller områden med större andel utövare av konstnärliga yrken anses vara mer vänligt inställda till mångfald än andra.
Jag är nu i södra Danmark i hålan Billund som är mer känd som stan där leksaksföretaget Lego har sitt huvudkontor. Första intrycket är att Lego äger hela stan; Disneyland fast Lego. Jaja.. jag är här för konferensen European Innovation Conference, och ska också presentera mina forskningsprojekt om lek och kreativitet. Om jag lär mig någonting nytt denna vecka så kommer jag definitivt att lägga ut det på bloggen.
I am now in southern Denmark, in Billund the home of Lego. I’m attending the European Innovation Conference, and will present my research project as well as some preliminary results from my current study on play and creativity. If there is anything interesting I learn here at the conference I will definitely share it.
TEDxÖresund May 6th, 2011. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Samuel West, clinical psychologist, creativity researcher Lund University. Most recent book: Konsten att vara kåt på jobbet – en bok om arbetsglädje. (How to be horny at work, horny in swedish also means happy).
I would like to talk about:
Keypoint: We need to bring back play into the workplace!
Banished from school and workplace alike, we have lost our ability to play and have turned to a culture obsessed with effective work. Historically, work and play were more intermingled, yet a century after the Industrial Revolution we have increasingly lost touch with what makes us uniquely human – our ability to continue playing even as adults.
I argue that play is not only fun, it is absolutely necessary for innovation whether it be in business, education, culture or for social change. Play is where creativity and innovation grows. Play fosters social relationships and cooperation, it exercises our ‘creative muscles’ and as a side-effect it also makes work more fun. By allowing us to temporarily suspend reason and reality it frees our mind and allows us to experiment with novel ideas and behaviors that would normally not be permitted. As a state of mind rather than a certain activity, play is an approach to our work and to explore unknown possibilities. Play is a shortcut to hybrid thinking.
Modern business culture vividly celebrates the notions of creativity and innovation (I challenge you to find an organization that doesn’t!) yet it appears a difficult puzzle for most organizations especially large established ones to practice. Although play is the single best way to facilitate organizational creativity it is often blatantly outsourced to external consultants at offsite company events. For an organization or society to value innovation it must value and encourage play more than twice a year. Playing twice a year to aid innovation is like going to the gym twice a year to gain muscle.
Some examples I would love to present:
Region Skåne’s never-ending problem with getting enough people to donate blood. We engaged the Helsingborg community (80 high school students and 80 representatives from business) in a workshop using play to generate new approaches to make donating blood more attractive. The results were amazing!
How nurses at a hospital intensive care unit play the game of “Pimp up my patient”, how they playfully give their very sick patients care above and beyond what they are required to do.
Other examples come from how workplace play can break the often rigid hierarchy in Danish organizations and thus creates a better climate for creativity.
Den här boken var uppfriskande annorlunda för mig. Den handlar inte om lek, lekfullhet eller som mycket annat i kreativitetsgenren med likartade råd, tips och tekniker för att försöka uppnå större kreativitet på arbetsplatsen. Författarna till Ideas Are Free menar att de mest innovativa organisationerna är inte de som har de mest kreativa medarbetare, utan snarare de organisationer som har ett genomtänkt system att ta hand om idéer. De mest kreativa företagen har alla effektiva sätt att samla in anställdas idéer och genomföra dessa. Detta skiljer sig ifrån det man ofta läser; det vill säga att kreativa företag är kaotiska och system-befriade och att goda idéer antas obehindrat vandra uppåt till beslutsfattarna.
Här är några av de viktigaste punkterna jag fick ut av boken:
• Ledningen behöver lyssna på idéer från “fabriksgolvet”, verkligen lyssna och uppmuntra anställdas kreativitet. Detta är lättare sagt än gjort!
• En kultur av idéer uppmuntrar alla att ständigt vara på utkik efter sätt att förbättra, och aktivt uppmuntrar diskussion av idéer.
• Organisationer måste förvänta sig att deras anställda har idéer, två per vecka är inte för mycket begärt.
• Ju större organisation desto viktigare är det att ha ett effektivt system att hantera alla idéer.
• Finansiella belöningar för goda idéer orsakar mer problem än nytta. (Det här kapitlet i sig gör boken läsvärd!) Människor vill se sina idéer användas – och detta är motivation nog!
Ideas are free by Robinson & Schroeder
Although not quite in the realm of play nor the typical “be more creative” type of book this book is a gem. Most of the books and articles I read are about how to get employees to be more innovative/playful, and the majority all give very similar advice and use similar techniques for greater creativity in the workplace. So this book was refreshingly different: The most innovative organizations are not those who have the most creative employees, but rather those organizations that have a well thought out idea management system. The most creative companies all have effective ways to gather employee ideas and implement them. This is a little different from the whole idea that creative companies are chaotic and system-less and that great ideas effortlessly make their way to the organization’s decision makers.
Here are some of the main points I got from the book:
• Management needs to listen to the ideas from “the factory floor”; really listen and encourage employee creativity. This is easier said than done!
• A culture of ideas is one that encourages everyone to constantly be on the look-out for ways to improve, and one that actively encourages the discussion of ideas.
• Organizations need to expect their employees to have ideas; 2 per week isn’t too much to ask!
• The larger the organization the more important it is to have an effective and responsive idea management system.
• Financial rewards for good ideas cause more trouble then good. (this chapter alone was made the book worth reading!) People want to see their ideas used – and that is motivation enough!
På jobbet sker mycket av det kreativa arbetet i grupper. Detta trotts att de flesta studierna kring arbetsgruppers kreativitet visar att grupper är faktiskt mindre kreativa än individerna var för sig. Det rätt bra bevisat att brainstorming fungerar dålig i de allra flesta arbetslag. Anledningen till detta är att grupper tenderar att fokusera på att att nå konsensus. De vill komma överens om något, ett mål, ett arbetssätt etc. Och ofta blir det viktigare att snabbt komma överens om något än att utforska många olika alternativ. Problemet blir speciellt påtagligt när det finns en majoritet i gruppen. Om flera av arbetsgruppens medlemmar tycker på ett sätt så visar forskningen att resten av gruppen då väljer att anpassa sig och börja hålla med majoriteten. Om det i en arbetsgrupp som diskuterar framtidensmarknadsföringsstrategier finns en stark majoritet som vill satsa på social medier så kommer resten av gruppen att tendera att alldeles för snabbt börja hålla med majoriteten. Denna tendens att snabbt komma överens samt att gruppmedlemmar tenderar att hålla med majoriteten hämmar kreativieten. Det finns dock en lösning påproblemet:
På engelska heter det dissent. På svenska skulle man säga att dissent är när en person har en avvikande åsikt som går emot de rådande idéerna. För att arbetsgrupper ska bli kreativa behöver de åtminstone en person med avvikande åsikter. Professor Carsten de Dreu som studerar fenomenet skriver “The reality is we need dissent. Without dissent, society would come to a halt; we wouldn’t change or create or innovate. But dissenters are despised or ignored or persecuted by the majority.” Med hur är det då när den avvikande åsikten eller förslagen är helt felaktiga eller oanvändbara? Det spelar faktiskt ingen roll – även felaktiga avvikande åsikter gör arbetsgruppen mer kreativ och förbättrar förmågan att fatta beslut. Personen eller personerna med avvikande åsikter fungerarar som en befriare och gör det därmed lättare för resten av gruppens medlemmar att tänka själva och uttrycka sina idéer istället för att bara hålla med majoriteten.
Here is my research plan. I will spend the next four years at Lund University researching how play impacts creativity in the workplace.
Adult play as a facilitator of creativity in an organizational context
Creativity plays an essential role in the overall success of many organizations, and these organizations also increasingly realize that they must actively promote creativity and engage in ongoing processes of experimentation to maintain an innovative advantage (Florida, 2005; Statler, Roos, & Victor, 2009; Thomke, 2003). Yet compared with the amount of research done on the cognitive aspects of creativity, individual differences or affect and creativity, research on the efficacy of creativity training methods is lacking (Hennessey & Amabile, 2010). A meta-analysis of 70 studies on creativity training provides evidence that this type of training generally leads to promising results; the more successful programs tended to focus on the development of cognitive skills and the heuristics involved in skill applications (Scott, Leritz, & Mumford, 2004). Even online-based creative thinking programs have been shown to significantly improve creative abilities and creative self-efficacy in adult samples (Robbins & Kegley, 2010). According to Hennessy and Amabile’s recent review article (2010), creativity researchers have become increasingly interested in the creativity of groups rather than individuals; despite this much is still unknown about the creativity processes of groups. In an organizational context most creative work is done in team settings (Thompson & Choi, 2006), emphasizing the importance of understanding and developing interactive approaches to the creativity of groups, rather than identifying and managing creative individuals (Hargadon & Bechky, 2006).
Construct of adult play
The majority of research on human play is on the developmental benefits of children’s play, whereas studies of adult play focus on its use in therapeutic or education contexts (Van Leeuwen & Westwood, 2008). As a construct, adult play and playfulness is not easily defined (Kruger, 1995). Some researchers emphasize playfulness as a relatively stable personality trait (Barnett, 2007; Glynn & Webster, 1992) while others see play as an activity mediated by social psychological factors. In his recent book on the subject, Stuart Brown (2009) writes that “play is a state of mind rather than an activity” and continues to define play as an absorbing and intrinsically motivated activity that is apparently purposeless and provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness. Similarly and building on earlier definitions, play theorist Peter Gray (2009a) defines play as a structured and voluntary activity in which means are more valued than ends, it being of an imaginative nature and in someway non-serious, having rules, and involving an active yet non-stressed frame of mind.
The common conceptualization of adult play as the opposite of work is an assumption that has been seriously refuted, in fact many researchers argue that play is an essential aspect of a healthy creative work environment (Csikszentmihalyi & LeFevre, 1989; Gray, 2009b; Starbuck & Webster, 1991; Statler, et al., 2009). In an organizational context, playfulness can be seen as an important component of a creative organizational climate (Ekvall, 1996). One interesting finding on the construct of adult play is that unlike children’s play where creativity is seen as integral (eg.Russ, 1998), creativity was not found to be a defining feature of adult play (Barnett, 2007).
Play and creativity – why play might facilitate creativity
Play is suggested by evolutionary biologists as a source of behavioral variety (Spinka, Newberry, & Bekoff, 2001), and it is not too far of a stretch to suggest that play may also be a source of mental and creative fluency. Play might facilitate the flexible thinking that leads to novelty and variation (Russ, 1998). Many of the aspects of play and creativity seem interwoven, and this has lead researchers to ask if creativity and its related skills of flexibility, association and intrinsic task involvement may indeed be acquired by and developed though the process or state of play (Hoff, 2010). Play has been associated with the development of children’s cognitive and affective creative processes (Russ, 1998), and playfulness as a personality trait seems also to be connected to creativity in adolescence and adult populations (Craft, 2000; Fix & Schaefer, 2005; Glynn & Webster, 1992; Goldmintz & Schaefer, 2007). The idea that play might positively impact creativity has been more of a theoretical focus, and with few exceptions the experimental studies have been limited to child play. In a recent overview of the research on pretend play, Hoff cites Dansky’s early experimental studies that provide evidence that play facilitates children’s creativity and suggests that pretend play does have a positive impact on creativity in children (Hoff, 2010). Other researchers have also experimentally demonstrated that children who participated in flexible play experiences showed significantly greater creative thinking (Berretta & Privette, 1990). Two intervention studies were found that examined the impact of adult play interventions on creativity. In a study of the state-related nature of creative performance, adults who imagined themselves as seven-year-olds while writing a short text scored higher on creativity tests than a control group (Zabelina & Robinson, 2010), suggesting that a playful childlike mindset may promote creativity in adults. The other study tested the effects of an intervention of a Role Play Game on undergraduates with promising results using the Test for Creative Thinking – Drawing Production and a similar test of creative imagination. In this particular study, the effects of the play intervention was stronger if the creativity measure was done directly following the play intervention instead of spread out over four weeks (Karwowski & Soszynski, 2008). This supports earlier findings that the short-term “spilling over effects” of play interventions may be stronger than the long-term effects (Moore & Russ, 2008).
Goal and Aims
The overall goal of this project is to investigate the impact of adult play on organizational creativity. The first aim is to develop a theoretically sound model of adult play suitable for organizational contexts. The second aim is to test this model in a variety of real-life organizational settings. The third aim is to test its impact on creativity in a controlled intervention study. This will to my knowledge be the first project examining the impact of an adult play activity on creativity in organizations. The focus of this proposed research is in line with the current ambitions of the European Union Seventh Framework Program to reinforce the links between creativity and organizational learning (FP7, 2009).
Study 1) Promoting creativity with play: Creativity consultants’ notions of the use of play as a facilitator of creativity in the workplace.
Aim: To investigate the notions that creativity consultants have of adult play as a facilitator of creativity in the workplace. The results, together with theories of play, will lay the foundation for the development of a model of adult play that will be used in the following two studies.
Participants, procedure and data analysis: Participants will be 15 experienced creativity developers who utilize play in their work; they will be selected to maximize variation in terms of their approach and the types of organizations they work with. The semi-structured, in-depth interviews, which will last approximately 45 minutes, will use an interview guide that includes questions such as: “Describe how play might facilitate creativity in the workplace?”; “In which ways do you use play to promote creativity?”; “From your experience, what are some concrete examples of play activities that promote creativity, and which play activities do not seem to affect creativity?”; and “What difficulties do you experience in getting adults to play in the workplace setting?” The recorded interviews will be transcribed, and each participant will receive the transcription of their interview and asked to check its accuracy. Common themes will be extracted from the answers using inductive content analysis (Hayes, 2000).
Expected results: To develop a preliminary model of adult play that may be useful for enhancing creativity in an organizational context. The model is expected to be grounded in the experience of what creativity developers utilize in their work as well as in existing theories of play.
Study 2) Practical evaluation of an model of adult play activity in an organizational context.
Aim: This study aims to test and evaluate the previously developed model of adult play in a variety of organizational settings. The evaluation will focus on the participant’s experience of the play activity as well as to what degree the activity measures up to the theoretical criteria for play. The findings from this study will help refine the practical play intervention for use in future studies.
Participants will consist of three groups of approximately ten persons in each group (N=30). The participants will be recruited from the diverse fields of engineering, marketing and education with each group coming from a different organization. The teams will be recruited on a voluntary basis and in collaboration with employers.
Procedure and data analysis: Initially the practical development of the play activity will involve a small pilot study to test its design and feasibility; this pilot aims to allow for improvement of the play activity before launching the larger study. For the main study, groups will receive identical information and instructions and each group will get the same 45-60 minutes of play activity. The exact content and procedure of the play activity will be based upon the findings from the first study. After the play activity, the participants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire on how they experienced the play activity and about their ideas of its appropriateness in their organization. Participants will also rate the play activity on the theoretical criteria for play such as a) how absorbing, b) how enjoyable, and to what degree they c) experienced a suspension of self-consciousness. Background information on the participants such as age, gender, profession, as well as position in organization will also be collected via the questionnaire and this data will be analyzed in relation to the questions about the play activity. The questionnaire will be constructed for the study and will be tested in the initial pilot study.
Expected results: The empirical knowledge drawn from this testing of the model in the workplace environment will enable improvement of the play intervention model for future intervention studies, additionally it will contribute to a better understanding of the experience of adult playful activities in the workplace and their relation to the various background factors.
Study 3) The impact of an adult play activity intervention on creativity in work teams.
Aim: To study the impact of an intervention with an adult play model on the creative output of teams. The intervention group will be compared with matched controls in a between-groups design.
Participants will consist of six teams of approximately 8-10 persons each (N = 48-60). The teams will be recruited on a voluntary basis and in collaboration with the employer; if possible all teams will be from the same organization. The teams will be existing teams that have experience working together. The intervention group will be composed at random by three of the teams, leaving the other three as a control group.
Procedure and data analysis: The teams in the intervention group will participate in the play intervention during a period of at least eight weeks, while the control group will receive a series of non-playful group activities. The exact procedure, contents, and duration of the play activity, as well as details on the number and length of the play sessions will be based on the results of studies 1 and 2. Creativity measurements will be taken before the period of play begins, and after one week, as well as three months after the last play activity session. Eventual effects will be measured in both the difference between pre- and post-intervention scores as well as between the intervention and control groups. Creativity will be measured by the Consensual Assessment Technique (Amabile, 1982; Hennessey & Amabile, 1999) since it has been argued that this is best suited to measure direct experimental manipulations of social and environmental factors (Hennessey, 2003). For this measure participants are asked to complete a figural and verbal task, which can involve creating a collage, writing a short poem or another creative task, relevant to the participants’ field of work. Scores of creativity are obtained by a panel of expert judges who examine and score the products or ideas according to a standardized method.
Expected Results: 1) At follow up, the intervention group, in contrast to the control group, is expected to show improvements in creativity compared to baseline. 2) In addition, the intervention group is expected to score higher than the control group at the follow up.
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